Lawmakers to grill Biden pick for ambassador to UN: 35-year veteran Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Written by on January 27, 2021


The secretary-general of the United Nations Friday stated “human rights are in danger” due partially to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Sept. 25) AP Home

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, might have a few of her trademark “gumbo diplomacy” on Wednesday as she faces lawmakers for her affirmation listening to.

With a 35-year profession in international service, Thomas-Greenfield would convey a distinct tone to the worldwide physique than her current predecessors. 

“America is again. Multilateralism is again. Diplomacy is again,” Thomas-Greenfield stated after Biden launched her and different members of his international coverage staff in November.

Former President Donald Trump derided the United Nations and different multilateral establishments. Trump’s first ambassador to the UN, ex-South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, minimize a excessive profile on the worldwide physique in championing Trump’s “America First” international coverage. Haley’s successor, Kelly Knight Craft, appeared to eschew the highlight.

Thomas-Greenfield has held quite a few diplomatic posts world wide – from Kenya to Pakistan. She was the U.S. ambassador to Liberia from 2008 to 2012 earlier than turning into the highest U.S. diplomat for African affairs within the Obama administration. 

Her allies say she is broadly admired contained in the State Division and can assist Biden restore America’s repute on the worldwide stage.

“She understands peacekeeping, she understands the UN, she understands the growing world,” Wendy Sherman, who served as undersecretary of state for political affairs within the Obama administration, advised USA TODAY in November. Sherman can be poised to hitch the Biden administration, if confirmed, as deputy secretary of state. 

Lawmakers are prone to grill Thomas-Greenfield on Biden’s most contentious international coverage priorities, together with his push to revive the Iran nuclear settlement and his promise to confront an more and more aggressive China.

If confirmed, Thomas-Greenfield might face lingering skepticism and resentment on the job after the Trump administration’s abrasive method to the establishment and its therapy of America’s allies. 

Dealing with burning crosses and machine weapons

Thomas-Greenfield, who’s Black, was born in Baker, Louisiana, within the early 1950s and attended segregated faculties as a toddler. In a 2019 speech, she described rising up in a city “through which the KKK commonly would come on the weekends and burn a cross in somebody’s yard.” 

When she attended Louisiana State College, David Duke, a white supremacist and Klan chief, had a major presence on campus, Thomas-Greenfield stated, in recounting the deep racism she confronted throughout her faculty years. 

In 1994, Thomas-Greenfield was dispatched to Rwanda to evaluate refugee situations amid the genocide in that nation. She stated she was confronted by a “glazed-eyed younger man” with a machine gun who had apparently mistaken her for a Tutsi he had been assigned to kill. 

“I didn’t panic. I used to be afraid, don’t get me improper,” she stated in her 2019 remarks. She requested him his identify, advised him hers, and managed to speak her means out of the scenario. 

Her secret negotiating device, she says, is “gumbo diplomacy,” which she employed throughout 4 continents throughout her international service. She would invite friends to assist make a roux and chop onions for the “holy trinity” (onions, bell peppers and celery) within the Cajun custom.

“It was my means of breaking down limitations, connecting with individuals and beginning to see one another on a human degree,” Thomas-Greenfield stated. “A little bit of lagniappe (or ‘one thing additional’ in Cajun) is what we are saying in Louisiana.”

On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Antony Blinken to steer the State Division by a vote of 78-to-22.  

Contributing: Maureen Groppe

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